If you’re like most people, you start every day with a laundry list of tasks to accomplish. As the day progresses, you check items off and add more items on. Are you being productive, or are you just creating busy work? Review this checklist to find out.

1. Planning Meetings to Have More Meetings

Meetings can be awful. They rarely lead to any real progress and, more often than not, participants leave more confused than they were when they arrived. Having meetings is one thing, but having meetings to schedule more meetings is a waste of time. When you’re wasting time, you’re not being productive and you’re not getting work done.

2. Over-Editing

You receive an email to review a project, or add further details to a document. What do you do? Many people waste an excessive amount of time over-editing. This is particularly the case with emails, documents and spreadsheets. It’s likely that these things will not be seen by the general public, so why are you wasting so much time dotting every “I” and crossing every “T”?

3. Piling on More Than You Can Handle

Bosses love to give their employees more work than they can handle. They do this because they want to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. Nevermind the fact that you may be doing several people’s jobs for the price of one, and you’re hopped up on coffee all day just to keep up the pace. This is unproductive, because you do not get your best work done when you’re multitasking and splitting your focus between multiple projects and tasks at once.

4. Scheduling Tasks for Mundane Activities

Thanks to smartphones and reminder apps, it can be extremely easy to get caught up scheduling tasks for mundane activities, such as when to eat, when to call someone and when to send an email. Many people think this enables productivity, when in fact it just creates anxiety. When you waste time scheduling mundane tasks, you’re never at peace because your brain is constantly focused on the next item to check off. Your to-do list never ends, keeping you in a vicious cycle of busy work.

5. Analysis Paralysis

How do you feel when you’ve completed a project or task? Do you move on to the next thing, or sit and dwell on the past? This is called analysis paralysis; the process of over analyzing work previously completed and mulling over the outcome. What do you do to feel better? You create busy work that’s somehow connected to work you’ve already completed. You hope that by creating supplementary components to the work you have done, you’ll redeem yourself if you fail. This is a waste of time and it is not productive. Stop doing this.

6. Email Overload

Managing email can feel like a scattered thunderstorm, because every so often you get drenched. It will go away and then come back again a few hours later. This is just the way things are and there’s nothing you can do about it. The problem occurs when you are glued to your inbox, anticipating the next pop up, alert, or incoming message. Answering e-mails can become busy work that distracts you from completing more important tasks.

7. Constantly Busy

Are you busy all the time? If so, you need to re-plan your day to find a balance. No one should be swamped all the time. People are sometimes overworked and underpaid. I understand that. You probably have a similar list of tasks to complete each day that consume most, if not all, of your workday. But, how much of what you do on a daily basis is actually necessary? How much of what you do is actual work, and how much of it is busy work? Identify the work you do that is meaningful and helps you reach your company’s objectives – omit everything else.

Featured photo credit: caffeinating, calculating, computerating/Ryan Ritchie via flickr.com

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